Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My favorite line from Elf

Have you ever had one of those “Aha!” moments that nobody else really got? Maybe it’s because the moment is personal to you, or because people are wired differently, or because you’re crazy and there wasn’t really anything much to be Aha-ed anyway. I’ll admit I’m a bit different than most (Eccentric? Quirky?), so it’s often kind of hard for me to vocalize what I mean when something resonates with me.

Anyway, last Saturday night I had one of those “this is brilliant” moments that my friends didn’t really see and I couldn’t vocally give words to, so I thought I’d try a blog.

We were watching the holiday classic “Elf.” You know, Will Ferrel, Zooey (Zoe-ee? Zoo-ee?) Deschanel (Desh-an-ell? Dash-N-L?), and Ed Asner as Santa.

Ah, Ed Asner as Santa. I had seen the movie earlier that holiday season with my family, and there was a line in it that struck me for some reason. It was in Central Park, when Santa’s sleigh is broke down. Michael, Walter Hobbs’ son and Buddy the Elf’s, um, half-brother, the one who wears a Wayne Chrebet jersey, is up on the sleigh.

In this instant, as he sees the sleigh and the giant bag of gifts, his transformation is complete, from that kind of grouchy, cynical person who yells, “Go away!” at Buddy to a kid, full of wide-eyed wonder and pure, childlike joy. At that point, Santa/Asner pulls out his great book, looks up Michael’s name, and reads him exactly what he wants. Beautiful. Michael’s face lights up. The great sleigh, which is supposed to run on the wonder of “the Christmas Spirit,” rises off the ground briefly and then settles back down. Michael asks what happened.

“You made my sleigh fly.”

Santa’s response, with that St. Nick twinkle in his eye, and that brief, perfect burst of a storyteller’s tone, resonated with me. It’s hard to say why (though I’m sort of trying in this blog).

So as I watched “Elf” with my friends on a snowy, dark, chilled Saturday night in my apartment in Columbia, the above line drew near.

Just sort of talking out loud, almost without thinking, I said, “My favorite line of this movie is coming up.” I think they expected a knee-slapper, or some suggestive humor. (Do I have a reputation?)

Instead, they got Santa telling a beaming kid that his joy, his euphoria, his spirit had made the sleigh fly, had made the Christmas season what it is. It appeared to be a letdown for them of 2010 Houston Texans proportions.

But maybe that’s just how it is with things that stir the soul. Everyone’s different, wonderfully. But here’s at least a stab at why I love this line:

The wonder of the kid on the sleigh is what drives it all. It’s shows us the joy and wonder that are fitting for this holiday season. Santa says, in a way that makes me think he’s telling an ancient secret, that this is the kind of joy that makes the world fly, that makes life worth living.

Too much of life, all that ordinary stuff, is kind of a dreary grind at times. But joy like Michael’s when he made the sleigh fly, the joy and love and wonder of Christmas and a Savior’s birth are what make us fly, what make our lives soar.

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